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SAP Hybris, Hurricanes & Hype-Free

Posted on 10.18.2016

Drunk tank pink, it’s the amoxicillin-looking color said to calm and weaken opponents and the name of a NY Times best-selling book from Adam Alter, a marketing and psychology professor at NYU who presented last week at SAP Hybris Americas Summit in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. 

Alter offered the business crowd insights into his research on judgment, decision-making and social psychology – interesting stuff, really – like how we are responsive to things that resemble us. 

People, for instance, choose dogs that look like them (see image) and are even more likely to donate to a hurricane that shares the first letter of their name, a fitting topic given Hurricane Matthew spared the host community just a week prior. 

Alter proposed, and to weather officials too, that hurricane-naming should be more systematic, using the most popular letters of people’s first names in order to increase donations. If the names of the 27 most damaging hurricanes in recent history were optimized by Alter’s approach, he suggests, donations would have increased from $10 billion to $10.7 billion. Agencies helping people impacted by natural disasters over the last decade or so could have certainly put 700 million additional dollars to good use.

As far as SAP Hybris is concerned, drawing similar conclusions for leveraging data to optimize for business conversions was an easy leap for attendees. Given, SAP Hybris Chief Strategy Officer Brian Walker had just told attendees that “data” – the very element that can optimization and transformation can stem – is the core of SAP Hybris product strategy.   

It’s the way Walker thought best to describe the SAP Hybris roadmap, which is supported by products for commerce, marketing, billing, sales and service. 

“To sum it up, our goal is to enable our customers to create great experiences,” said Walker. 

The messages delivered by SAP Hybris weren’t really all that flashy, given techies are accustom to keynotes delivered to the beat of a band, after an acrobatic show or even with monk participation (or lack thereof) – but that’s SAP Hybris as many of us have come to know it since SAP and Hybris came together in 2013. 

The big reason for a separate event (SAP of course has its big show, Sapphire Now, which takes over the Orlando area) is that Hybris customers likely wouldn’t know where they fit in the more traditional, hyped up version. It’s a modest event by most tech standards (1,000-plus were said to be participating, which is double from last year), but had the expected fun (welcome reception and after parties). 

Without the gimmicks, however, Summit reinforced a consistent vision for SAP Hyrbis: helping customers simplify how they talk to their customers. Again, not that flashy, but stakeholders seem most concerned about making a good product and seeing what customers do with it.

One executive said this toned-down approach can be attributed to Hybris' German roots where engineering is revered, while another said it's just boring software but customers are able to do remarkable things with it. Attendees heard from some of these customers. 

Total Wine & More (like a BevMo or Binny’s), for example, spoke to analysts about its reliance on SAP Hybris for its “digital omnichannel transformation” to make correlations between online and in-store behavior in order to serve relevant experiences regardless of where a person chooses to interact. 

Similarly, Under Armour shared its digital transformation story - now putting data in the hands, literally, of all their teammates to understand consumers. Under Armour has a tremendous amount of data thanks to its investment in wearable tech and My Fitness Pal (an app) where users share intimate details about their health and fitness lifestyle. Under Armour is using this data to support its core mission (make all athletes better) by providing customized menu plans and even identifying changes in “gait” to help prevent injuries to athletes. The company is also, of course, using data to help improve and inform business decisions like for assortment planning and to show partners it knows its product and its customers.  

On the other hand, Lids (most known for its hat stores inside malls) shared a cringe-worthy tale of at one point investing millions of dollars into e-commerce with nothing to show for it saying, it was “a long road and really, really expensive.” 

Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but the finger was pointed at an integration partner and the SAP Hybris team stepped in and dug them out. Once Lids reached out to the vendor, it was able to see progress every three weeks and now “sales are stable and conversion rates are good.” 

The transparency of that customer, however, is a good reminder about costs and speed to market when deciding on software. Commerce tech, in particular, is witnessing acquisition after acquisition as vendors try to be everything to everyone or squash the competition (even without "drunk tank pink"). Billions of dollars are being exchanged and while the possibilities are simply incredible, some shows are becoming more like an over-the-top episode of Silicon Valley rather than a focus on product capability. 

It’s critical to separate keynote Kool-Aid with purchasing decisions and as, SAP Hybris Global VP of Omnichannel Commerce Solution and Strategy Riad Hijal put it, “...making sure that as an organization you are constantly aware of what the customers are doing across touchpoints.”

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